Apples and oranges – comparing quotes

There are many factors that can influence a quote for a piece of furniture, kitchen or built-in-cupboard. These range from materials, hardware, finishes to the tops used on the items. All of these have a different cost in terms of the raw materials used, to the labour needed to process the materials. It is vital that the customer is educated in what to look for when comparing quotes.


What are the actual cupboards themselves made from? While most manufacturers use white melamine to make the units, some suppliers will use raw chipboard to manufacture the carcasses of the units, especially in the bedrooms where there is not much chance of them getting wet. Chipboard is cheaper than melamine, but will over time become dirty, stained and just generally look messy, whereas melamine surfaces can be wiped down with a damp cloth to keep them free of dirt and oils. Carcasses can also be from Supawood (MDF) or even plywood, but these options are more expensive due to the need to paint them before installation to offer the best protection against moisture.

Do the units have backings on them? One way of cutting costs is to remove the backings from the units in question, or to put unpainted backings on. By not having backings on your units, you run the risk of losing something down behind the units which cannot be retrieved without major removal of cupboards, tops and the like. Most houses built these days do not have straight walls, so there are always some sort of gap behind the units being installed. White or painted backings are also more expensive than plain brown backings.


What hardware is being used on you units? There are thousands of different products on the market for use in kitchens and built-in-cupboards and as a result, large differences in quality. A hinge, for example, can start from as little as R1 and vary to about R50, depending on its use. Drawer runners are another great example, starting from around R10 per drawer and ranging up to around R1000 per drawer for a top of the range system. The hardware is very important in a kitchen environment as it’s the hinges and runners that do all the work. The cheap, plastic wheel runners used by most manufacturers wear out rather quickly and become a nightmare to use. Steel ball bearing, full extension runners are a much better option, but be sure that a good quality brand has been used in this regard. Check if the runners and hinges use a soft-close system or not and whether the runners are adjustable or not. What guarantee does the hardware come with?


What doors have been quoted on? The 2 most confusing kinds are Wrap doors and Melamine doors, as both can look almost identical to the untrained eye. Manufacturers often use melamine boards to make doors and simply glue an edging to them. This is easy to spot as the doors are mostly square edged because the material underneath is chipboard, which does not router to well ie: put a design on. Wrap doors use Supawood (MDF) underneath which is easy to router and can even have a pattern cut into it in the centre, such as a tongue and groove effect. The Supawood is then coated with a heat activated glue and a PVC covering is vacuum sealed onto the door. These wrap doors are far superior to the melamine as the Supawood is far more water resistant and the end result is nicer to look at and is far more customisable in terms of colours and design. Wrap doors are more expensive, but they are a superior product to the melamine doors. Solid wood doors are more expensive again due to the higher labour costs involved, as well as the cost of the wood in the first place.


What tops have been quoted on? Postform tops offer the most affordable counter surfaces around, but again, be sure that only top quality suppliers are used as not all tops are manufactured the same. Even differences in colour can cause the price of the tops to vary drastically, so be sure to compare carefully. Many suppliers and manufacturers also use clever advertising ploys to sell granite tops and these prices can be seen to vary largely between different suppliers. The most common is to quote per linear metre as opposed to per square metre, which boils down to the same price at the end of the day, but bear in mind that a linear meter of granite top is only 60% of the area of a square metre, so when you notice specials that seem to be a very good price, check for the above. Solid wood tops are very popular, but again are more expensive to manufacture and finish due to the labour costs involved, as well as the costs of the raw materials.


What small details are included in the quotes? Has the supplier allowed for handles? Handles vary greatly in price and as a result, can have a large impact on the pricing. Has the supplier allowed for top scotia and bottom light capping? These are very specific to a job and need to be made up accordingly. Have the drawers been sprayed or painted on the insides, in the case of MDF or plywood? Unpainted drawers, backings and tops can mean more work for the customer after the installation is complete to be able to keep the units looking good over time.


While there is no real harm in quoting for items or units in different materials, it is important that the customer is comparing the same quality when it comes to kitchens. One price may seem a lot more expensive initially, but when the above factors are taken into consideration, may actually be the better package in the long term. If the quotes are different, think about asking one of them to change the materials or hardware to the same as the other to better compare apples with apples, not apples and oranges.

Need help with a free standing kitchen quote, or even a fitted kitchen, then go for more information, or call 0722372232.

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